What is the Shelter House Play Therapy?

Part Three

Copyright 2014 (c) by Dr. Michelle Stangline

If you are a trained mental health professional in the school system (School Counselor, School Social Worker, School Psychologist) then you are trained to use Shelter House Therapy on a more modified “counseling” level.

Parents can also utilize the Shelter Therapy House at home under the supervision of the attending therapist. An example of this is when a child is acting out at home the parent can ask them to place a feeling cube or furry fuzzy into the house. This can be used as a coping skill, and then documented by the parent for a later discussion in the therapist’s office.

The Shelter House Therapy Shape:

The generic type “Shelter Therapy House” is basically 20 x 24 inches with a 6 inch board width. It is made from sturdy Georgia pine wood.  I have these houses custom made from a company called “Blue Ridge Sawdust” located in the mountains of North Georgia.


The design of the Shelter Therapy House is intentional due to the view scope used in the client’s phenomenological world and levels of conscious thought. This “Shelter Therapy House” is basically a house of “feelings”.  Within the confines of the five room compartments of “Shelter Therapy House” the client can feel safe and express their deepest feelings and thoughts in a secure framework.

The Shelter Therapy House is open in the back and front to allow room for movement and to bring forth several hidden feelings of the psyche. It is a world that must be entered with a trusted therapist when used in therapy. It is the job of the therapist to make the client feel safe in this “Shelter House Therapy World”.

Unlike the Sand Tray Therapy technique, the “Shelter Therapy World” is much clearer for the client and the therapist. Feelings are identified and used within the house. A lot of the “mystery” is taken away.

It is true to Dr. Lowenfeld’s “pre-verbal imagery” use in the sand tray. However, the games and guesses of sand tray therapy and play therapy are completely removed. The therapist will find “Shelter Therapy” a faster, more effective therapy than any therapy used today. 

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What is Shelter House Play Therapy? Part Four
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Disclaimer: This website and its content is intended for trained licensed mental health professionals and school certified mental health professionals to use for their clients / students at their own discretion.

*If you ignore the disclaimer above are using these techniques on yourself and you feel any discomfort or upset it is highly suggested that you seek out a licensed  mental health professional immediately.

"Beyond Art Therapy" is the concept from Dr. Stangline that combines all creative fields in therapy. It is not the traditional "art therapy" but goes beyond to include sand tray therapy, play therapy, mindfulness, meditation, color therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and a vast majority of other therapies.

For any other type of mental health emergency call your local 911 / Police Number immediately.

Dr. Stangline does not offer advice / suggestions to anyone who is not a professional mental health provider, or a student who is studying this field and has questions about mental health programs of study.

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